Star chefs head to Maui for second Invitational

It's back! The Maui Chefs Invitational was such a hit last year, there was no question the Mill House Maui would host this three-day dining series with some of the nation's most acclaimed chefs.

This event is a smaller version of Chefs Week PDX, where about 30 like-minded chefs collaborate and celebrate their talents using local ingredients to make secret, all-new dishes with their flair and expertise, like Top Chef (but without the drama). To add to the camaraderie, they all share the same house or hotel, like Real World. The resulting meals are spectacular and innovative to the eye and taste ... but simple. No molecular gastronomy or painting with sauces. (Here's what dinner was like last year.)

The chefs, their families and the Mill House crew at the Mill House yesterday.

The Maui Chefs Invitational is more intimate, with eight chefs, and if you're a chef groupie, you'll love that intimacy. No, not like that! You get to watch the chefs, up close and personal, and talk to them about their experience during dinner (try not to do it while they're plating). This year's lineup includes Brett Michael Cooper, Aster in Northen California; Brooke Williamson, Hudson House, The Tripel, Playa Provisions, and Da Kikokiko, all in Los Angeles; Jeremiah Stone and Fabian von Hauske, both from Contra and Wildair in New York; Kenny Gilbert, Gilbert's Underground Kitchen and Gilbert's Social in Florida; Sheldon Simeon, Tin Roof Maui; Travis Grimes, Husk in South Carolina; and of course, Jeff Scheer of the Mill House Maui.

Behind the scenes: the chefs at the Mill House yesterday, exchanging ideas on the dishes they're creating.

Dinner for Friday or Saturday evening is $250 per person, or the more casual barbecue on September 3 is just $75. Last year all three events sold out, but they've allotted more seating this year so you can probably still get in. And, a portion of the proceeds from the barbecue including tickets, alcohol, nonalcoholic drinks, T-shirts and bags will go to the Hurricane Harvey relief fund. So, eat good and do good, folks.

I got a little preview of some items that may be served at the events this weekend. For example, Travis Grimes of Husk restaurant in Charleston is known for pickling, preserving and reviving heirloom beans and greens from near extinction and then using them in the restaurant. Since these items take longer than a week to prepare, Grimes pre-packed some and sent them to the Mill House last week.

When Jeff Scheer and I opened the box, it smelled incredible and it took all of our restraint not to open the items and use them right away,” said Amanda Hall, the Mill House Director of Communications, Marketing and Education.

Preview: Grimes made fried chicken skins with pimento "ranch,” espellette and scallions. No word on which dinner he's making this for.

Kenny Gilbert from Jacksonville, FL made fried chicken in coconut ginger biscuits with lilikoi and island pickles. No word on which dinner this is for.

If you're interested in the Maui Chefs Invitational, you can get more information and tickets here. If you can't make it, follow #MauiChefsInvitational on social media. To see more preview photos, click here.

Disclaimer: The Mill House and Edible Hawaiian Islands are flying me to Maui for this event. 

Second annual Maui Chefs Invitational
Mill House Maui
1670 Honoapi'ilani Hwy.
Waikapu, HI 96793
(808) 270-0303